The Bisexual, written and directed by Desiree Akhavan, also stars Akhavan in the lead role as Leila, the possible bisexual. Leila isn’t clear about herself, and we are left at the end not much clearer than she is.
With 6 half hour episodes, this dramedy explores a number of relationships. Thirtyish Leila has been with Sadie (Maxine Peake) for 10 years. Sadie, who is pushing 40 and wants a child, asks Leila to marry her. Leila freaks and moves out in what is supposed to be a “break.”
The thing Leila hasn’t admitted to anyone, even herself, is that she feels attracted to men.
She rents a bedroom from English teacher Gabe (Brian Gleeson). He’s a straight man living off the fading glory of his one novel. Being around him puts Leila in the midst of a heterosexual lifestyle she’s never experienced. The contrast between that and the life she’s known in the lesbian culture is a shock.
Leila and Sadie run a business together, so they see each other all the time. They keep track of what the other one is doing. They obviously care about each other, but Leila’s curiosity about men is driving her to new places. Leila briefly dates Jon-Criss (John Dagleish) and declares that sex with a man is just like sex with a woman. (Really?)
Meanwhile, Leila and Sadie do a lot of push-pull trying to work out whether they will end the “break” or not.
Leila’s friend Deniz (Saskia Chana) is a deadpan scene stealer who is a level-headed person in a cast mostly full of self-centered, dysfunctional, overgrown adolescents.
My favorite episode was a flashback to when Leila and Sadie first met. That episode included Deniz figuring out that she is a lesbian, and Gabe making the decision to give up on living his life his way.
The Bisexual isn’t the greatest series to come out of the UK. Nevertheless, it has some good points. Desiree Akhavan can write a brilliant one-liner that sums up a whole world of meaning in a single sentence. She uses humor well. She’s good at portraying the confused and uncertain Leila – the series is loosely based on her own life. Desiree Akhavan is a writer/director who bears watching whatever she does. She created Appropriate Behavior and The Miseducation of Cameron Post.
Maxine Peake is excellent, as always. Saskia Chana owned the show for me – perhaps because she was grounded and settled when so many around her were not.
If you’re looking for something that will clearly define what bisexuality is, this isn’t it. It does show the attitudes toward bisexuality in the LGBTQ community, and the confusion people – even bisexual people – sometimes feel about their own sexuality. Viewers who already accept the idea of bisexuality will get the most out of this series. It isn’t meant to educate the uneducated mind.
There are more loose ends and questions in this series than there are answers. Just like real life.
I enjoyed this series. It was touching and funny. However, I think opinions about The Bisexual are going to be all over the place. I’d love for you to share yours in the comments.
The Bisexual is currently streaming on Hulu.